Eagles Must Make A Call On Avant

avant_900_102013.jpg

The Eagles have a decision to make when it comes to Jason Avant, and will need to make it fairly soon.

Avant has become a fixture in Philadelphia. Selected in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, he has spent the last eight seasons with the Eagles, surviving some lean years and a coaching transition. Only Todd Herremans and Trent Cole have been with the team longer.




Avant proved valuable to Chip Kelly in his first year. He deserves part of the credit for guiding the Eagles past the Riley Cooper situation, and helped set the right tone in the locker room with his work ethic and approach to the game.  On the field, his stats dipped. While several of his teammates enjoyed career years, the 30-year-old had 38 receptions (he was targeted 76 times) for 447 yards. Those are his lowest numbers since 2008. He made strong contributions to the running game with his blocking, but his involvement in the passing game left something to be desired.

The Eagles will have to weigh all of that as they decide how to proceed. Complicating matters is that the veteran wideout is scheduled to receive a $1 million roster bonus, which kicks in the  fifth day of the league year (March 15). They will need to either release Avant or restructure his deal before then to avoid incurring that cost.

The day after the loss to the Saints, Avant said that he had yet to speak with Howie Roseman about his future.

"If they deem it important, they'll reach out. At the same time, they don't owe me anything. I've been here, playing as hard as I can, and that's all I can ask from them," said Avant, who has a base salary of $2.25 million in 2014. "I'm an employee, so that's one of those things that if I am -- how can I say it -- valued, that will be something they will reach out and do. But at the same time, if they don't, I'm appreciative for my time. And to all the Eagles fans, I had a ball here no matter what the outcome is."

The receiver position overall is up in the air. Cooper and Jeremy Maclin are both free agents. It is yet to be seen who will be lining up opposite DeSean Jackson, who is hoping a little more guaranteed money comes his way this offseason. With Avant's roster bonus set to kick in early in the league year, the Eagles don't have the luxury of sitting back and seeing how free agency plays out before making a call on the vet.

Despite the statisticall dropoff this season, Avant believes he has plenty of football left.

"I can play a while. I know they say I'm 30 years old but I don't have the nightlife, so that will preserve me a long time in itself," he said with a smile. "It's all about your upkeep and how you work out and how dedicated you are. I know there is no one in this league that is going to outwork me in the offseason."

His commitment to the game is undeniable. It's hard to recall a day when Avant didn't stay after practice to catch balls out of the JUGS machine. (Avant has arguably the best hands on the team, so that work has seemingly paid off.) He does not possess high-end speed, however, and the Eagles are missing that big-play element from the slot position.

Avant was asked if he'd like to see the same group back together for another shot at it in 2014.

"There are contract issues, there are so many different moving parts. You want everyone to come back but it's just not the truth," he said. "That's just the National Football League."

 

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Clamdigger

    *sniffle*

  • Ark87

    He needs to coach here when he retires. Everything you can achieve with hard work, route running, blocking, and hands, he’s mastered to the highest level. Smart guy, unmatched character, he belongs here in Philly, his footprint is so much bigger than his stats.

    • NickS1

      Very well said. I hope he retires an Eagle, but, I understand it’s not likely.

    • anon

      Aww — sounds like a eulogy.

    • BleedGreenJames

      I love Avant, one of my favorite players on the team, but he just isn’t a threat in the passing game. Saw somewhere he was the only slot WR in the league to catch less than 50% of his targets. Not good considering he was one of the league leaders in snaps taken by a slot WR. For Chip to reach his optimum goal of lots of points is for the offense to run a lot more plays. We were 12th in the league in plays per game despite boasting the shortest time in between snaps. If we can rely on a consistent slot man to extend drives whether that’s flexing TEs or bringing in a more dynamic threat to work the middle then we help the defense and wear opposing defenses down, resulting in Foles and co. having less problems closing games out late.

      And I’m not blaming everything that wrong that happened on offense this year on Avant, just feel it’s about as clear a position to address as S and K.

      • GEAGLE

        Jason Avant says that the film tells a very different story.

      • Tom W

        Strong analysis

      • no

        Avant is the best blocking wide receiver on the team, maybe one of the best in the game. That’s what chip values, not flashy stats. Being useful.

        • BleedGreenJames

          Wouldn’t you agree that stats = production = being useful?

          I love Avant, I wouldn’t be mad if he did return in 2014, I just believe the slot position can be upgraded. Avant oozes intangibles, but at some point you need to have good production, especially with the volume of snaps he saw in 2013.

    • aub32

      Hyperbole much? Mastered to the highest level? I get he’s a fan favorite but be real.

    • Scott J

      LOL.

    • Brandon

      At this point in his career Avant is best served as a 4th WR and 1m roster bonus + 2.25m base is a lot to give a 4th WR. I love his locker room presence, but unless he agrees to pay cut I just don’t see it making sense to keep him here.

  • jabostick

    I love Avant but realize he’s overpaid. Hopefully, he restructures and stays but if he doesn’t, I think he’d be a hot commodity – either for a contender who’d like some reliablility (i.e. the New England, Seattle types) or a young coach who wants to set a good tone (i.e. Skins/Bucs/Vikings)

    • cliff henny

      he’s worth restructuring on 1yr deal, giving slightly more than bottom dollar out of respect, and ask him to Russell Sheperd hopefully 2 rookie WRs Eagles draft.

      • GEAGLE

        I think Avant is back for one more year.
        ..
        Jabo, you see Avant being a hot commodity? How? I don’t see anyone paying him the money he is contracted to make next year…with an insanely WR class in this years draft, I think better FA then Avant are going to find this years FA market frustrating. Because I don’t see anyone paying Avant 3mil, I suspect him to be back one more year. We will already have to replace Maehl and Damaris, I don’t see us having to replace him too.
        ..
        I expect Howie and Avant to sit down and work something out
        ..
        There aren’t any must sign WR on the FA market, there aren’t any significantly better options then Avant and Cooper, and if there are some slightly better options, we would be foolish to just assume they will block and buy in as well as Coop and Avant have…

        Draft two WR in the top 5 rounds, add two more young WRs next summer, and we will be set..

        Speaking of WRs lol, Yous here that Justin Bieber gt arrested for Drag racing/DUI? The woman in the car with Bieber was Desean Jackson’s ex girlfriend Chantel lol… Let me find out Bieber is taking Deseans girl lol. Guess jackpot was no match for Bieber records lol

        • moesus

          I agree. I think it’s a bit dangerous to let him go because what if we do that and then Maclin and Coop sign elsewhere. Then we’re in a bad position. I don’t think I want DJax mentoring young receivers and Maehl/Johnson are not really worth anything.

          • GEAGLE

            If the plan really is to spend two draft picks in the first 5 rounds on WRs, you DEFINITELY want Avant here to mentor them. Any time you spend a valuable pick on a promising talent, you should have a good veteran at his position to mentor him..Kendricks swears by having Demeco since he got here.

            We have the Cap space to where we don’t need to make drastic changes that require taking two steps back, to hopefully later take 4 steps forward, like letting Coop and Avant walk and inserting two rookies into the lineup from day one. We are fortunate that we are in a position where we can afford to keep our starters in place, and bring along young players slowly like they did with Ertz. we bring back,Desean?Coop and Avant..draft two talented rookies, slowly incorporate them into the offense, let them earn their way…and when they are so good that keeping them off the field is a detriment, that’s when you move away from Avant, then Coop, and then Desean……the ON!Y teams that would let a Riley Cooper walk and replace him with a rookie, are Cap strapped teams who have no choice….we are BETTER then that..

            Realistically, how many new WRs can we add in one offseason? We only have two safeties under contract, non existent CB depth, OLB upgrade to make, might need a backup QB(I’m hearing Colt McCoys name floating around for the eagles)…how many WRs can they realistically add in 1 offseason? Two? Three at the most? We obviously ain’t getting 5 new WRs…so if we are only getting two new WRs, why wouldn’t we keep our best 4 and replace our worst two(Maehl and Damaris) we have the Money? Why the hell should we bring back Damaris and Maehl and Lose Avant and Cooper? So Lurie can be 20 million under the cap agan? NO THANKS!! So I don’t even want to talk about replacing Avant until Maehl!Damaris, are replaced and upgraded…and if we are going to talk about replacing Cooper, then it better mean that we already upgraded, Damaris!Maehl!Brad smith AND AVant…..we have the money, so We replace our worst WRs, and keep our better ones…

          • anon

            I think based on the draft players will know if they’re safe or replaced. Agree you want avant for young receivers. He helped Ertz and Coop a lot with catching (if you remember the offseason, and early season jug machines)

          • GEAGLE

            We had a new coach, Avant isn’t the fastest guy he didn’t know how secure his future was here, yet he still took Undrafted WR under his wing, helping him to try and make the team…he was mentoring someone, that for all he knew would take his spot….Not a lot of teams have a Jason Avant type. ESPECIALLY at the most diva position in the game…

            I’m all for improvement and not overvaluing our own guys when it’s time to make decisions..if we are going to make so many upgrades that Avant is holding us back, then Cut him, I understand….but when you have 35million in cap, you BETTER upgrade Damaris!Maehl, and Brad smith before you even talk about replacing Avant…and if you want to upgrade Cooper, then that better mean that we already upgraded Damaris!Maehl,Brad and Avant!

            Why would I want two new WRs, but not bring back Avant and Coop? When we can afford to keep them and replace Damaris and Maehl instead? What the hell would be the point? So Lurie can save 20million dollars again?

        • BrickSquadMonopoly

          Lol she went from a 27 year old football star to a 19 year old pop star wow. She must be looking for the one.

          • Mark Schmidt

            The one with the wallet and the blow…

  • Adam

    It’s a business. I trust Chip and Howie to decide how much Avant’s leadership is worth. His numbers don’t match the price but there are other factors to consider. Hopefully they can work something out. Avant being first guy off the bench isn’t the worst idea in the world.

    • macadood

      Still going to become a very crowded WR squad possibly, if Coop and Jmac are resigned, and another 1 or 2 WR added in the draft. As much as I like Avant he’d likely be the last on that list.

  • Kev_H

    I suspect they’ll honor his contract as is without giving it much thought. This isn’t the Joe Banner Eagles anymore and it sends a signal to the roster that hard work and a professional attitude are valued.

    • Sean

      Howie’s a salary cap guru. I highly doubt they go that route. It’d be just too much $ tied up at WR, especially when they could be potentially running into that same problem at TE.

    • Tom W

      I agree … they either honor his contract or cut him outright.

  • Kevin

    Personally, I would rather have an overpaid 4th WR in Avant who has the intangibles to be a great leader and locker room presence, than a higher priced free agent who doesn’t fit (too many memories of Babin, DRC, Nmandi).
    Chemistry matters in the NFL and we are likely losing Vick, so it would be great to maintain some high quality veteran leadership like Cole, Avant, Celek, etc.

    • Sean

      Not when your 3rd TE (Casey) is on the books for $4mm… There would be too much $ tied up at WR & TE at that point.

      • anon

        That deal is crazy for what he is.

        • GEAGLE

          I believe in Howie, and think he has done a masterful job, but I never understood why all his silly haters never bring up Avant,Herremans and Trent Coles contracts?

          • anon

            I think people’s issues with Howie are talent eval (and cheapness in FA), i don’t know many who think he signs people to bad deals.

            My point on Casey is that he’ll make as much as Celek next year but hes half the player. That puts our TE budget at $10mm, which seems a little high. Interested to see if they do anything about Casey’s contract, but it’d probably be more expensive to get a FB off the street.

          • Dominik

            Coles contract is really un-Howie-like. That’s basically a franchise QB contract, no chance of cutting him because of all the guaranteed money.

      • Giorgos Kassakos

        They can afford both of them this year. It’s better to overpay our guys than overpay adverdised players that have offered nothing. We all remember the “dream team” fiasco.

        I’d like to see Casey and Avant stay for another year. The Eagles can move on next year.

    • Jeff Asay

      Love what Avant has brought to the team, but they need to cut him loose. I’m in favor of keeping Cooper and allowing Maclin to walk. Maclin has been a medical reject for two straight seasons. You can’t depend on a guy like that and truth be told, he has never been as good as his draft position. Now coming off major knee surgery, Eagles need to reload with young talent with a shorter medical history.

  • Tom W

    I think beyond his leadership, chip really attributes alot of our success running the ball to avant’s blocking. ashame his catch rate is so low for a supposed possession wr … its like 50 percent … that’s horrible. As long as he isn’t our wr3 next year is all I care about. Keep him as our wr5 for another year then move on in 2014.

    we either pay him or cut him … don’t think howie wants to start redoing deals down bc it sets a bad precedent and annoys free agents and veterans.

    • anon

      He’s not bottom of the depth chart, hopefully after the offseason he will be. Even if he re-ups for a year his days are winding down (unless he foes to NF’s house for the summer).

  • Weapon Y

    I love Jason Avant, the man. He’s such a great leader. He’d be a natural coach some day. But it’s time to recognize that his bet days are long gone. The Eagles don’t have a ton of cap space as is, and need any money they can get to afford Cooper, Maclin, and a top tier free agent safety. Unfortunately sacrifices need to be made for that happen.

    • anon

      We have a ton of cap space.

      • GEAGLE

        If we don’t have much Cap space then I don’t know who does…and I would actually rather lose Maclin then Avant..
        ..
        Can I ask a question to the people who think we shouldn’t bring back Avant or Cooper? I’m not being sarcastic, just curious..How many new WRs do you think we are getting in one offseason? Serious question

        • anon

          Seems delusional that we would completely redo WR core. You consistency point is a good one. That said i think two new in offseason, 2 leave (DJ2 / Maehl). But we could drop another WR and have more DL / LB depth.

          • gwifi404

            Why would upgrading any position be delusional. To me its delusional in thinking Desean is a Number1 receiver

        • anon

          Also why do you think his ACL will be the death nail on his career? It’s 2014 not 1984. Luckily it happened in TC, i think he should be good to go by pre-season. Benn should be gone. Moving Benn Maehl and DJ2 gives us about 2.1 in cap space (0 dead), that’s about enough to cover a WR in FA.

          • GEAGLE

            I don’t think it’s death, I just don’t assume a speed position will heal perfectly…I also heard that his future here was far less certain them we think before he got hurt…we run the ball 50% of the time! which means Avant and Cooper are more valuable 50 percent of the time…I’m not opposed to Maclin at all. But I wouldn’t be ok with mac if it costs us Riley

          • Richard Colton

            Doesn’t matter – ’cause this just happened on first-pick.com

            Your Picks:
            Round 1 Pick 22: Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo (A)
            Round 2 Pick 22: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State (A)
            Round 3 Pick 22: Dominique Easley, DT, Florida (A)
            Round 4 Pick 22: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois (A)
            Round 5 Pick 22: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska (A)
            Round 5 Pick 29: Prince Shembo, OLB, Notre Dame (A)
            Round 7 Pick 22: De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (B)

          • anon

            You assume he wouldn’t block? Mac has had the whole season to watch (and watch DJ and Coop have career years). I think he’d do what it takes to stay in the system.

          • CTAZPA

            From Wikipedia: A death knell is the ringing of a bell to announce a death. This is also called tolling the bell. The ancient custom of ringing a church bell at the actual time of death.

        • Token

          Your letting the love of a single player get in the way of evaluating him as a player.

          Avant just isnt all that good of a WR. Hes just average. If they work it so he stays to fill out the bottom of the WR corp, fine. Otherwise, they can move forward and do better.

          • GEAGLE

            I don’t give a crap about Avant…I just don’t live in the madden dream world where you add 4wr,OLB,2 CB, 3 safeties and a NT in one offseason…I don’t think we will get more then two new WR this offseason, so I want to lose our two worst WR, maehl and Damaris..

            After we upgrade Mael,Damaris! and Brad smith! I promise I will lead the upgrade Avant and Cooper movement myself

          • Token

            this argument again. You can turnover a ton of players in a offseason. Go look at what happened in Seattle after Pete got there.

            The bar is not high. The idea that a 7th round pick could be a better play than many of the players we have at the bottom of our roster isnt inconceivable. I expect the trash to be taken out this offseason.

        • Weapon Y

          I’m actually in favor of keeping the receiving group as is, with the exception of camp bodies and possibly the no. 5 WR. Jackson, Maclin, Cooper, and Benn should be the top 4.

        • Will

          Agreed Keep Avant whose healthy over MacLin….

          • Mark Schmidt

            Agree. Avant, Cooper stay. Mac can go. The team did very well without him in 2013.

      • Weapon Y

        $20 million. We’ll need at least $5 million for Cooper. $8 million to get Byrd. At least $7 million to get Maclin, probably more. Plus rookies and camp bodies.

  • Wilbert M.

    Even at league minimum Avant shouldn’t be on this team. Good hands but zero YAC ability. I know he’s a great guy, but you need guys that can break one once in a while and Avant can’t do that.

    • George

      Leadership, consistency of team, chemistry, all reasons to keep him. @vets minimum, he’d be a steal. He can mentor young wr’s, and that may end up being worth his current salary as is

  • GEAGLE

    About a week ago I was telling someone on here about the Avant interview on CSN where he said goodbye to Philly fans because he was uncertain if we would pick up the option….and I couldn’t find the link for the person who was asking, and debating about whether or not there was an option….well whoever that was that I was talking to about it. If you still care, this is the exact interview/quotes I was referring to

  • bentheimmigrant

    So. Much. Class.

  • theycallmerob

    It’s hard to recall a day when Avant didn’t stay after practice to catch balls out of the JUGS machine. (Avant has arguably the best hands on the team, so that work has seemingly paid off.)

    who’s arguing that? bryce brown?

    • OldDocRoss

      My money’s on Evan Mathis!

  • GEAGLE

    Cliff, any thoughts on extending Bradley Fletcher and lowering his Base salary?

    • cliff henny

      making same in ’14 as he did in ’13. ’14 is non-guarenteed. if anything, i’d sign him to a yr extension for ’15 non guarenteed. with those knees, 3m seems pretty fair. if he makes it thru ’14, do it all over again.

  • anon

    Looking at EaglesCap i didn’t realize that we had 8 ILBs on this team. Most are filler with no dead money, like to see that rearranged (we only have 3 OLBs). Damion Square should be upgraded as well. Didn’t realize he was a “NT” when we was getting jacked up by DMurray.

    • GEAGLE

      Yeah we had some injuries at LB
      ..
      Hopefully Jason Phillips can bring it on ST..be nice if long or Knott emerge into a player..Naje Good is worth investing another years worth of development into…

      Casey Mathews needs st be replaced. Van Noy would be the perfect replacement for Casey in that he can backup both OLB and ILB… I think van Noy is worth continuing to mention, becaus he will dazzle Chip at the interview
      ..

      • anon

        If he can play inside and outside i think we’d go hard — we love versatility.

        • GEAGLE

          He def does…reminds me so much of Mike Vrabel. intelligent, tough, versatile. I would have him play OLB until we move on from Demeco and then slide Van Noy into Demeco’s spot..like Barwin “he plays with hair on fire”

          I wouldn’t mind us eating Brandon Graham’s dead money if we could trade him to the Seahawks for Jesse Williams. He was redshirted this year, and Seattle is going to lose pass rusher Micheal Bennett in FA…would love to bring a big powerful guy like Jesse Williams into camp

          • anon

            Like it.

          • Bdawkbdawk

            I doubt Chip would want him because of his short arms. But who knows, Graham is dead weight in our base d.

  • Token

    Jason is a guy youd like to see back in town someday as a coach.

    But this isnt a hard decision to make. He either takes a pay cut and stays as the #4/#5 WR or hes gone.

    • anon

      You know we have 8 WRs on the roster? I didn’t either. I think you give him a 2 year deal, very little guaranteed $$.

      • Token

        Not on the 53. You will be looking at 5-6 spots there any given year. Hes either at the bottom of that list for cheap or gone.

  • jamie b

    does anyone remember when he bad mouthed the Philadelphia fans?? I do.

  • gwifi404

    Groundhog day – Nick Foles does not have a number

  • Scott J

    Time for Avant to go. Too old and too slow. We’ll be able to find a player better than him in this year’s receiver-heavy draft.

  • JR

    Maclin deserves a one year deal if and only if he can prove his acl injury did not effect his play negatively.. Cooper needs his walking papers… He’s lazy..we drafted him when? And now he shows a hint of talent..he clearly has character issues.. And needs nick foles foles to perform well..let him walk..avants work ethic, leadership values, will to block defenders, and overall personality is what we need for a new wr coming in. Djax is more worried about his pockets than doing what it takes to win a Superbowl. It was a great business move on his part but reflects what is more important to him. And he lacks wr1 attributes and abilities and that’s what we’ve lacked since we had TO- honestly! We need a quality fa safety. Our draft should include(in order of importance) olb safety, DT, cb,OG,WR,K..the vet fa safety Mathias?? Avant and TrentCole will b ideal models for the draftees to

    learn from. Alex henry needs to prove himself and at cb and guard we need depth. Carmichael is garbage nd we need youth on the line